Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza

Well, well, well...it appears that D'Souza has given another interview. Jeez, you'd think he had a book to sell or something? The link to the full interview is here.

Dinesh D’Souza: We’re seeing a surge of atheist confidence and atheist
belligerence. The best-selling atheist books like Hitchens’ God Is Not Great and
Dawkins’ The God Delusion are one indication of this. Another is the militancy
of atheism on many campuses today.


Why is it that when atheists are confident, it's a bad thing: but, when Christians are confident, they're warriors for Christ? Also, note the sour grape over the success of books by Dawkins and Hitchens. Tsk, tsk. And, of course, the reference to college campuses being heathen dens. Funny how he just skips right over the fact that a great many college campuses have chapels and on-site religious advisers...and, let's not forget the student groups.

In a way, the atheist attacks on God and religion are a bit odd. I don’t
believe in unicorns, but I don’t go around writing books about them. I suspect
what has given atheists a boost is the Islamic radicalism we’ve seen in the wake
of 9/11. The atheists glibly equate Islamic fundamentalism and Christian
fundamentalism, and then conclude that religion itself is the problem.


Calling an argument "odd" doesn't make it odd. Mr. D'Souza, you may not write books about unicorns, but many, many people do. They realize that unicorns are mythical creatures, but they make little girls squeal and dream of fairy lands. In short, unicorns are used as a creature in FICTIONAL writing. I don't see atheists writing non-fiction pieces on unicorns either...so what's your point? Most atheist authors I have read don't discuss the characteristics of God, they discuss the way theists worships those gods and the attributes theists give to their god of choice. To put it into simple language, and improve your analogy by making it logically equivalent: we're treating your god in the same way a writer of fairy tales treats the unicorn and saying "Can you believe these people who spend money on the Cult of the Unicorn? There's no such thing as unicorns...so, why are people devoting their lives to them?"

As for 9/11: what is it with you fundies and your need to plug the events of September 11th into every friggin' interview you do? Is it some giant theist bet to see which asshat can work it into their spiel the most times in one year? From what I've learned from my readers and other atheists, the "Islamic radicalism" is running neck and neck with the over-zealous and backwards response of Christian radicalists, as a boost to atheism. Neither party (Islamic radicalists or Christian radicalists) seems rational and reasonable in our eyes. Both are equally scary!

He goes on...
I want to show Christians and religious believers that theism makes vastly
more sense of the world and of our lives than agnosticism or atheism. I also
want to persuade genuine seekers that they should take Christianity seriously,
and give it real consideration. I don’t expect to convince dogmatic atheists,
but I do intend to expose and refute and embarrass them.

Mr. D'Souza, can you stand in front of a classroom of scientists (which would probably include a few believers) and tell them that "God did it." makes more sense than the explanations given in their texts and lectures? When you get sick, do you think that it makes more sense to go to a doctor or pray for a miraculous cure? When you wonder about the tsunamis caused by earthquakes, would you say it's more rational to say "God must've known those people deserved to die." as a response? Or, would you choose the scientifically valid and verified explanation of how tsunamis are generated by earthquakes? When a woman is pregnant and needs an emergency c-section, do you take her to a church or a hospital? Reason, logic, and skepticism will always be better tools to understanding the world- and they happen to be the tools employed by atheists and agnostics without prejudice. We apply them to everything in our lives. We don't suspend the use of them to promote a belief in a fictional deity.
And, while we're addressing this paragraph,...it is not, how shall we say?..."couthe" to suggest that your goal is to embarrass those who oppose you. In fact, it denotes a lack of maturity on your part. Grow up! Leave your unicorns, deities, and useless pandering at the door.

While there are a lot of shallow arguments made by Dawkins, Hitchens, [Sam]
Harris and the others, behind them there is the formidable atheism of
philosophers like Bertrand Russell and Friedrich Nietzsche. My book takes the
new atheists to task on specific fallacies and whoppers that they routinely
make. But I’m not content to defeat them on their weakest ground. So at times I
strengthen their arguments, remove contradictions, and give them the benefit of
every doubt. I attack their argument not at its vulnerable point but at its
strong point.


Shallow arguments? Only if you're too academically pathetic to understand what you're reading. Maybe you should go back to those books about unicorns? It amazes me that you can accuse someone else of writing fallacies and lies when your whole premise for existence is based on an unproven, untestable, and mythical compilation of oral tales passed down over thousands of years with little concern for concurrence with reality.

If I succeed there, then I have defeated atheism in its strongest and most
coherent form. Ultimately, it is Russell and Heidegger and Nietzsche who pose
the greatest challenge to believers, not intellectual snipers like Hitchens and Dawkins.


That's a pretty big "IF"!
There's more at the link. But, frankly, I started zoning out when he began making claims that "there's a whole body of data" that shows that the world is becoming more religious. Dude...if that's the case, what the hell are you worried about? It kind of squelches any claims that there's a militant contingent of atheists looming on the horizons if you then make the claim that there are more religious people than ever. Not to mention that, even if that was a true statement, there's absolutely no logical reason to believe that the majority is correct because they are the majority or increasing.

16 comments:

Russ said...

PMomma,

As I see it, atheism concerns these people today only because now the human mind unencumbered by oppressive church influences has a real voice. Today, thought really can be free.

Believers often sight great minds like Newton as having been religious. It's true they were. They had no choice. Newton's babblings about his own unorthodox religious ideas had to be kept hidden away under threat of persecution for thought. This intellectual giant was not free to delve into the idea that his god was a fiction. Remember, at that time, great minds, towering intellects, thinkers who revolutionize all of mankind's view of the entire universe could always have their impure thoughts choked out of them by the noose, or roasted away by the flames. Newton was not free.

Today, really for the first time in human history, a person can stand up in public and freely say that religion, gods, clerics and believers are deluded and are harming mankind in general.

AlisonM said...

I hate when they bring up nihilist philosophers. I don't think I've seen anyone who became atheist because of Nietzche, and only a couple of atheists who actually were testing out nihilism, much less living it. The way D'Souza and those of like mind throw about "nihilism" and "materialism" always makes it clear that they not only don't understand the philosophies, but also have never met any atheists.

It's worthless to try to refute him, though. Every time he's put up one of these stupid screeds, he's gotten hundreds of responses, almost all in opposition, and many doing a fine job of fisking him. It's like water off a duck's back. He's sticking his fingers in his ears and singing "LALALALALA" as loudly as he can, just like any of these religiocrats who have a platform.

Fortunately, if you look at the responses these statements invariably generate, you can see that there's more support for the rational side. Plus, it is true that younger people are moving away from fundamentalist churches according to a number of studies. Some of them might be moving to more mainstream churches, some might be choosing alternate spiritual paths, but some are abandoning faith entirely. Regardless of where they're ending up, they're putting some thought into their choices rather than marching in lockstep as they may have been taught, and that's a good thing.

VWXYNot? said...

"I don’t believe in unicorns, but I don’t go around writing books about them."

Not one person who believes in unicorns has ever tried to force that belief onto me...

Steve said...

When they run out of original claims they can make, they tend to take what's been said about them and turn it around against atheists, thinking atheists won't recognize their own arguments. Somehow, they don't realize they're just weakening their position when they do this.

shaun said...

I'm curious if anybody has actually read "What's So Great About Christianity" (I'm assuming this is the book he's hocking). If so, what were your thoughts?

I posted a blog the other day about D'Souza being his dickheaded self. He argues fallaciously throughout his entire rant, admits to it, then claims the win. I think he may possibly debate Hitchins in NY soon - I'd be interested it seeing it

PiGuy said...

Shaun:

Already took place. You can view the whole thing here:

Hitchens vs. D'Souza

evo_devo_goddess said...

DSouza seems like one of those guys who was picked last in school games.

Funny how he just skips right over the fact that a great many college campuses have chapels and on-site religious advisers...and, let's not forget the student groups.

You are absolutely correct. My college had a medium sized chapel where they held vespers on Christmas Eve and did weddings. I don't understand why people like John (and there are many) present higher education like it will end faith. What are they opposed to? Learning?

You keep giving them hell PMomma!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Today, really for the first time in human history, a person can stand up in public and freely say that religion, gods, clerics and believers are deluded and are harming mankind in general
Very good point, Russ!

Alison, I can only hope that you're right about the dwindling numbers of young adults choosing fundamental belief systems.

Not one person who believes in unicorns has ever tried to force that belief onto me...

Vwxynot - EXACTLY!

You keep giving them hell PMomma!

I shall do my best. :)

Betsy said...

"I don't understand why people like John (and there are many) present higher education like it will end faith."

That's exactly what ended my faith! :)

Seriously, I think higher education is our greatest tool against irrational faith. The only fundamentalist I know with any college education (and I know a lot, since I was raised that way), is my sister and she's a nurse. Many of them have very poor primary and secondary education.

My philosophy/religion professor told me that after studying religions for 45 years, he couldn't possibly believe any of them, although he admits to a vague belief in "something." Fundamentalists I know not only discourage higher education, but they specifically discourage education in other religions and belief systems. Why?? Because they feel threatened! They know that if this sort of education was encouraged or required, students would see the discrepancies, the similarities, and wind up having "wtf" moments, as I did. They wouldn't be so easily controlled by church dogma and church leaders. And ironically, the truth really would set them free - from religion.

Ang said...

I agree totally with Betsy. During my undergraduate degree days, I took several classes that about religions, including Sociology of Religion. It was then that I realized that all religions can't be right, and therefore, none are right. Most believers that I know are not aware of other religions and have not received any education about the various religions/myths. I can certainly understand why most religions are "scared" of higher education. If their young people get in the "wrong" course, they may not be the same when it's over.

Chris said...

In regards to betsy's comment about knowing only one fundamentalist with higher education, I'm sort in a reversed situation. I only know of one member in either side of my family who went onto higher education, and that person's atheist. Me. The vast majority of everybody else is either fundy or close to it (and see no problem with the fundy members of the family). Not surprisingly, I'm also the only one I can think of who has a love of learning. I can certainly see in my family a direct relation between how fundy you are and how much you don't seem to care about how the world works.

Well, I should be fair regarding the amount of people who went onto college. My mom completed a two year degree, though I'm not sure it counts. She's now certified to teach Sunday School, thanks to her time at Christ For The Nations International. I went to their elementry school, and I can attest they don't even do childrens education properly, or without indoctrination. If you've seen Dawkin's "Root of all Evil" show, you saw the segment about the ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) program. That was what I was in. Ugh.

Kathryn said...

evo-devo, they are afraid of people learning to THINK. :)

alison - yes, when I was a kid, I was in a Catholic school system that was so prominent in the area, we had our own basketball league. (High School) There were many parishes with a rectory where several priests lived, a Parish grade school, a convent and a High School in each part of town.

They are almost all gone - the Prep school remains, the grade schools are almost all gone, few nuns, and the church I attended no longer has a rectory and shares a priest with another parish, that is, they only have mass there every other week.

Where did all the kids like me end up? You would have thought the churches would have quadrupled, but no.....

Of the four kids in my family, one still is an active believer.

AlisonM said...

I wish I could remember the source, pmommma, but I did read not only a survey showing percentages of fundy youth dropping, but also some articles by evangelical leaders in near panic trying to figure out how to reverse the trend. I think it all started over ad Pharyngula, and I ended up surfing around and finding the articles.

Terra said...

alisonm,

Thank goodness and reason for that! :D

Chris said...

alisonm: It took me longer to find it than I thought it would, but I believe this is the article you are thinking about

A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity

Here's some small quotes:

"The study shows that 16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life. In fact, in just a decade, many of the Barna measures of the Christian image have shifted substantially downward, fueled in part by a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. For instance, a decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a "good impression" of Christianity."

"The new study shows that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals. This means that today’s young non-Christians are eight times less likely to experience positive associations toward evangelicals than were non-Christians of the Boomer generation (25%)."

"As pointed out in the Barna Update related to atheists and agnostics, this is not a passing fad wherein young people will become "more Christian" as they grow up. While Christianity remains the typical experience and most common faith in America, a fundamental recalibration is occurring within the spiritual allegiance of America’s upcoming generations."

"David Kinnaman, who is a 12-year-veteran of the Barna team, pointed out some of the unexpected findings of the research. "Going into this three-year project, I assumed that people’s perceptions were generally soft, based on misinformation, and would gradually morph into more traditional views. But then, as we probed why young people had come to such conclusions, I was surprised how much their perceptions were rooted in specific stories and personal interactions with Christians and in churches. When they labeled Christians as judgmental this was not merely spiritual defensiveness. It was frequently the result of truly ‘unChristian’ experiences. We discovered that the descriptions that young people offered of Christianity were more thoughtful, nuanced, and experiential than expected.""

(emphasis' mine)

That, I believe, sums it up (even if it makes the post a tad long), but it's still definately worth a read as there's a lot more information in there.

AlisonM said...

That was definitely one of the ones I read, chris. Thanks for dredging it up. It's a GOOD thing.